My changing world as a remote worker

I’ve worked at home for many years. I never believed I would see a radical change to my routine when the UK went into lockdown in March. However, the sudden shift to everyone working at home has had a significant impact.

I’ve faced challenges to the way I work and manage my diary and time. As a result, I’ve had to learn new methods to adapt to the situation. And realistically, I don’t see it changing in the future. With added personal concerns, I don’t think I’m alone to say this has affected my well-being. During UK Mental Health Week, an ONS survey highlighted in late March 2020 that 49.6% of people in Great Britain reported high anxiety. In my blog, I want to share some of the challenges I’ve faced and the positive changes I have made.

Meetings, meetings and more meetings

I think we are all in agreement. Without a shadow of doubt there has been a dramatic increase in audio and video meetings. In April and May, the number of meetings I’ve attended doubled in comparison to the two months before lockdown. More meetings have resulted in more preparation time in my diary. My calendar resembled one block of back-to-back meetings with only a one-hour break at lunchtime. Where could I fit in other priorities that need to be delivered on top of this?

Richard van Wageningen recently wrote an excellent LinkedIn post asking why meetings need to be 30 or 60 minutes long and why not 45 minutes instead. I’ve taken that a little step further. I’m now booking more 15 to 20 minute calls. Shorter calls allow me to focus clearly on the topic. When finished, I have some clear time in my diary to look at other actions. I’ve also revisited how I approach my priorities. I’ve reduced my daily action list to a maximum of five tasks to complete a day. Two tasks taking around one hour each and the remaining actions shorter in length. I now have a more manageable diary and achievable to do list.

Never switching off

More meetings has resulted in additional time looking at my laptop screen or being attached to my phone. Both require absolute concentration and can be extremely tiring. In the past, my one hour lunch break was long enough to recharge my batteries before the afternoon schedule. This is no longer the case, and I am now taking more breaks. I take a few minutes every hour to leave my laptop. Believe me it was very difficult at first! I take time to step outside to get fresh air, make a cup of tea, do housework or even do some coloring! Five minutes an hour makes all the difference. I can then return to my laptop refreshed and ready to go. I’ve also stopped doing one of my very bad habits – reading my emails while eating lunch!

Inviting work into your home

With more video calls, I have virtually invited colleagues, suppliers and partners into my home environment. This new way of working has thrown up a number of new considerations. In my early video calls, I found myself stressing about: will I be disturbed, what room should I sit in, is my background appropriate, what am I wearing and is my camera switched on. The list is endless. I’m not alone, and there have been countless articles giving advice on how to cope with video calls and the correct etiquette. I have concluded to just give myself more time. I try to leave my previous meeting earlier to prepare my “setting,” ensure I am seated comfortably and be connected to my next meeting on time.

We are not invincible

Without a doubt the crisis has affected people’s health and well-being. The dramatic change in work circumstances, with added personal life stress, has mounted up. Since mid-March, I have been isolated with my partner on our boat with little contact with the outside world at all. The situation at times has been a little tough.

I have to say my support network at Orange Business has been fantastic. My manager has always given me the time to chat whenever I need to. Regular virtual chats with colleagues, friends and family have enabled me to let off steam. And there are many invaluable online well-being resources at work I can tap into if I ever need them.

It may seem that I’ve only made small changes to the way I work. But I can already see the positive benefits.

I would be interested to hear from other remote workers about your experiences of adapting to the new way of working.

Tracy Wilks
Tracy Wilks

I am European PR and Social Media Manager and also UK&I Marketing Manager supporting my local account team. In my spare time I love to travel and live on a replica Dutch barge on The River Thames.